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Because He First Loved Us Wk 2

The Cost to Christ

Jakob Davis

 

Good morning brothers and sisters, it’s good to see all of your smiling faces on this beautiful Sunday morning. In case you missed it, or if you need a refresher, last week we talked about OUR sin, OUR  decrepit condition of a nature. We went over how Scripture details that all are found guilty in sin, marred and entangled within it as a cursed inheritance from our forefather Adam. We went over how even though Scripture calls those who are within sin “slaves of sin” it doesn’t mean that we are being forced to do something we don’t wanna do, in fact, quite the opposite. We desire to serve our flesh and allow it to master us. And unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing that we can do about it within our own strength.

Before the eyes of God our best, most righteous works are nothing but filthy rags and trash before Him. For how could we measure up to the one for Whom the word holy was used to first describe? How could we measure up to His expectations and how could we satisfy His wrath? We couldn’t, we alone still can’t. Our desire and actions in serving our corrupted flesh rightly condemns us to a death that we do truly deserve. What hope is there?
 

The Incarnation & His Perfect Life

Even to God’s own people, Israel, it looked hopeless! The children of Israel had faced down and fallen to the Babylonians in the Book of Jeremiah, the Temple had been destroyed and desecrated, they had gone into exile and had miraculously been released to go home to their lands after over 70 years. And yet when they returned home and began the work to rebuild the temple the manifested Spirit of God didn’t come with them. His manifested presence that had been upon the first Temple never returned after its departing in Ezekiel 10, before the judgment of the people of Israel. The last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi, closes the portion of His book with a prophecy of what is to come, a last message of hope. Malachi 4: 5-6 reads this,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

And with a final word <snap finger> the lights go out. The prophets, God’s divine messengers stopped talking, God stopped talking. For 400 years the people heard nothing from God, made worse by the fact that they had been conquered three different times and dispersed. First the Greeks under Alexander, then Ptolomy, then finally Rome. Bound under captivity and servitude to foreign nations and powers, the people of God wept, begging God for relief, for a release from their overlords, for the power of God to be shown again and for Israel to be glorified amongst the nations. The hopes of the peoples of God were growing ever dimer, strengthened only by prophecies of a king to come that would be a great conqueror and would bring all the nations of the world under His dominion. And that was exactly what they got, what we got, just not in the way we thought He would come.

400 years after God stopped talking, a young and unmarried woman is visited by the angel Gabriel, giving her the news that a king would be born to her, that He would inherit the throne of His father David and that He shall reign over the house of Israel forever! He would be called the Son of God, the Holy One, and His name would be Jesus. Luke 1: 30-33 says this,

“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

 Yet you might think that a King such as this would be born in the lap of luxury, I mean His father was King David was it not? He’s the Son of God! Yet this young woman and her betrothed husband were not royalty, they were commoners and carpenters. And he would not be born into the lap of luxury but into a humble beginning. Detailed in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2 Verses 6-7:

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Something for us that we must understand is that this was not a simple babe. He was not just another man or just a holy man. He was God. In the beginning of the Gospel of John, the apostle John records this, John 1 Verses 1-5

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life as the light of men. And the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

And Verse 14 of the same book and chapter,

            “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God Himself, the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, came to dwell in flesh stepping out of glory and honor for a purpose only He would know, until it became revealed by Him. Both fully God and Fully man. Yet He was tempted as we were, understanding and sympathizing with our weaknesses and tempted at all points, yet wholly and totally without sin. He was undeserving of the destruction for which mankind was destined, walking a perfect life, performing the work that His Father in heaven had set before Him to do, possessing a clear conscience with God His Father. Yet He, in all of His righteousness and holiness did not withhold Himself in any way from us. But rather bore a cost that we could not.
 

The Cost

And what was this cost? It was the deaths that we deserved, bearing the iniquity and the sin of us all. In a hammer stroke of symbolism and literality, the high priests of Israel, those who were holy before their own eyes, delivered Him up to be judged before the Romans. And yet they stood for us, stood for mankind, offering up the Son of God to be judged for our iniquity. In the Gospel of Mark these events are recorded, Chapter 15,

“Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.  Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.”And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!”  But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.”

 

When it says He was scourged, we might think of something far more pleasant than what was actually the case. The thing He was “scourged” with was called a fragrum and it was perhaps one of the most brutal and cruel devices of punishment and torture besides the crucifixion itself. We likely have a good picture of what it might look like, a handle with cords of leather proceeding from the handle itself. Yet on the end of each of these pieces of leather were nails, pieces of sharpened bone meant to puncture into the skin and become embedded, and perhaps the worst of all, metal hooks which would lodge themselves into the skin of their victims and would pull chunks out of the body when the fragrum was violently ripped away. There are ancient records of the tool leaving ribbons of skin hanging off the body and tearing down to the bone.

And for most of us we know what happened. We know that Christ, after His scourging, was led through the streets of Jerusalem, being mocked and scorned, carrying a cross that weighed near 300 pounds upon a torn and destroyed back and shoulders. And when He arrived to that cursed mount of Calvary, He was laid upon the cross He had just borne, and nailed to it, not with nails as we understand them, but rather with some akin to a railroad spike. Once He was hung, every single breath that He had to take, He had to muscle Himself up on those spikes through His feet. For six hours, He withstood the blood loss, He withstood the constant and ever present mocking and ridicule, He withstood the sheer pain of it. Yet not just physical pain, but emotional pain too. Everyone that had followed Him, His closest friends had abandoned Him. He hung on the cross all alone, dying.

Luke 23:39.

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.

 

This last conversation with Jesus before His death, shows mankind a reality. We can be like the first criminal who blasphemes God, showing no faith or remorse, but rather expecting God to save us. Or we can be like the second, who understands his sin and iniquity, and in faith comes to Christ humbly. And with one final breath Christ commends Himself into the Father’s hands, dying in the place of the murderer and insurrectionist Barabbas.

 

The Plan

But you see this was all the plan, executed perfectly and without error, just as it was intended. You see God wasn’t reactionary to our Fall, He didn’t say to Himself, “Oh darn, humanity done and did it, I better go fix it.” No, rather Christ knew and waited, for as it says in the Book of Galatians Chapter 4 Verse 4-7:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God (that is God the Father) sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

 

In the fullness of time? Christ came in the fullness of time to break the shackles and the binds of the slaves! Let me read verse 7 again,

 

            “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

           

Our identities as slaves to sin have been destroyed! Atoned for! Covered, with the precious blood of Christ. Christ’s atoning work upon the Cross and His resurrection broke the shackles of death and sin, allowing all those who would call upon His name to come into the newness of life as a son and heir of God. 1 Peter 2:23-25 says this:

 

“Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

 

To think that we are deserving or entitled to something so precious, so merciful would be a tragedy! We do not deserve this, at all! Yet Christ died for us. For you, for me, for all who would come to believe on His wonderful and powerful name and to live in righteousness and restored relationship with God.
 

Illustration & Explanation

So you’ve undoubtedly seen the absolute mess of rope tied and wound through this front row of pews. Today we’re going to continue our theme of different illustrations with an active image of our lives. Would my voluntold volunteers come on out? As you can all see, these brave souls are fully blindfolded, completely and totally unable to see. Today they are going to be navigating through this sort of “rope course” to the way out that we can all see (crack a grin). They all have their instructions, but we as a congregation cannot help them. Please do not laugh when Beorn hits his head trying to climb under the pews, or when Aria gets frustrated and starts talking to herself. Just observe. (Begin the illustration)

For those who did not see it or perhaps understand the symbolism of this illustration, this “rope course” that hardly is one, was to symbolize our lives, our natures, our entanglements in sin. No matter how hard we work, how much we think, how much we try to muscle our way out of circumstances, we can’t, for without Christ, without the Cross there is no way out. Yet when I saw them get frustrated, become upset, or need help, I went to them to lead them out. In much the same way, Christ finds us wherever we are in our entanglement with sin, offering help and salvation in His hand. And that help and salvation, leads to and proceeds directly from the Cross, where He paid our blood debt owed to God.
 

Application

Earlier I read the verse from the Gospel of Mark which detailed Christ being handed over to the Romans and His crucifixion. Yet in those same verses there was a man, a man who had been arrested and was awaiting death for his crimes, who, without a doubt, was guilty of them. His name was Barabbas, if you don’t remember. His name quite literally means, “son of the father”. We are Barabbas, guilty of our own sins and deserving and bound for a death that we do deserve. No one would argue against his deserving of death! Yet Christ was sacrificed in his place, in OUR place. A man, totally innocent and undeserving of punishment, yet willing to take it upon Himself in our place so that we might be declared righteous before the eyes of God and able to come home.

 

 Last week I closed us with a verse from Isaiah 53, a verse that should have left us with some hope, much like it did for the Israelites. The verse in question verse 6, reads this:

 

            “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

 

This week I would like to read the rest of that Chapter of Isaiah so please turn with me to Isaiah 53. The Word of the Lord,

 

“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness, and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men. A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

 

As we go into our last song, and as we go out into the world today, may your mind be cast back to the great and terrible cross which the Son of God went to gladly for both you and I. My prayer for you, is that each and every single one of you would know the love of Christ in that while we were yet sinners, bound and destined only for death, Christ died for us, taking into His own body our sin and suffering our death. There are undoubtedly some of you that are out there that look back upon your sin and think “I don’t deserve this, I deserve death. Forgiveness is not something I want, for how could there be enough for me?” Perhaps you’re looking at your sin right now and allowing it to stonewall God calling out to you. My dear friends, I plead with you, Christ pleads with you, all of heaven pleads with you, come home. I speak from experience when I say I know this feeling, the guilt, the painful remorse. Come home, come home to a Father who loves you, to a Savior who died for you. Come home, the altars are open, there will be men waiting at the stairs to pray with you, who join with Christ and myself in pleading for you. Let us pray.

 

Benediction

A Psalm of David,

“Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your Lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight – That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when you judge. Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”

 

Amen, Go in peace
 
 
 

Resources:

 
You can watch the entire service, including music, etc. by clicking HERE.
 
You can watch just the message by clicking HERE. (This will appear early in the week).
 
 
 

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Ezekiel 36

Day 1579

Cultivate and Sow!

Ezekiel 36

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Saturday, July 13.

 

Ed Bell is a local Indiana farmer who sees his chosen occupation as a metaphor for Christian ministry – to cultivate the soil and plant good seed, trusting God with the coming harvest. Farmer Ed’s perspective on life has positively influenced me over the fifteen years we have cultivated the soil and planted good seed together in his beloved Indiana community. I am thankful to live amongst a community that understands farming because the Bible is full of agricultural imagery, including God’s promise to Israel in Ezekiel 36:9, ‘For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown.” God explained His promise in verses 34-36:

 

“The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.”

 

While this promise was given to the Jewish exiles in Babylonian captivity, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the Judean countryside, the principle can be applied beyond the return and redemption of the Promised Land. As Christians, our promise is not for a homeland defined by borders because our citizenship is in Heaven and the whole world is our farm. While we are to be loyal citizens to our respective nations, and work for the welfare of our local communities, our true occupation is to cultivate the soil of hearts and sow the good seed of God’s Word for the salvation of souls (Matthew 13:1-43).

 

Seize the moment and work hard as a faithful farmer – cultivate the soil of hearts and sow good seed with care and concern for the welfare of your community!

 

 
God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 

 
 
 

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Ezekiel 35

Day 1578

Break the Cycle of Bloodshed!

Ezekiel 35

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Friday, July 12.

 

Bloodshed begets bloodshed! This is one of the major themes of the human drama. We see it in the Bible, ancient mythology, modern history, and in current events. I just read another local news story of a road rage incident where a young man shot at another driver. We read stories like that, and we ask ourselves, “What’s the world coming to?” but, honestly, that that’s the way it’s been for thousands of years. In Ezekiel 35:5-6, we hear the ancient law of reciprocity in God’s oracle of judgment against Mount Seir, which is the nation of Edom:

 

“Because you have had everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment of the end, therefore as I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will give you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you.”

 

The law of reciprocity goes both directions, just as it can be a negative death cycle of bloodshed begetting bloodshed, so it can be a positive life cycle of love begetting love. We see this in God’s salvation story to redeem His rebellious creation back unto Himself through the love of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He broke the negative cycle by giving us grace, as Romans 5:8 emphasizes, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We are not saved because we deserve to be saved; quite the opposite, we are saved because love begets love. When love wins, we all win!

 

Seize the moment and break the cycle of bloodshed in today’s world by loving others as God first loved you, hence fulfilling the golden rule of Jesus, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

 
 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 
 

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Ezekiel 34

Day 1577

The Promise of a Good Shepherd!

Ezekiel 34

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Thursday, July 11.

 

God’s people need hope whenever they are walking through the valley of the shadow. In Ezekiel 34:15a, the Lord promised to be a good shepherd to the sheep of His pasture, “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest.” He would fulfill this promise through the Messiah, referenced in verses 23, “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.” Even though this prophecy was written at least four hundred years after the death of King David, and Jesus would not be born for over five hundred years, Ezekiel was declaring that the promised rest of God would come through the Messiah of Israel, who is the Son of David. He described how the Good Shepherd would lead them to rest in Ezekiel 34:27-28:

 

The tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid.

 

Jesus fulfilled these promises, offering each of them to you today: 1) the promise of fruitfulness by abiding in the Vine of Jesus (John 15:1-16); 2) the promise of rest by taking on Jesus’ easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-30); and 3) the promise of peace by receiving the Holy Spirit (John 14:26-27). Like the rod and staff of a shepherd, these promises will comfort you as you walk through the valley of the shadow (Psalm 23).

 

Seize the moment and trust Jesus to be the Good Shepherd of your soul (John 10:10-18).

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 

 
 
 
 

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Ezekiel 33

Day 1576

Repent of Being a Church Connoisseur!

Ezekiel 33

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Wednesday, July 10.

 

Are you called to be a church connoisseur? A connoisseur is a person who has an expert knowledge of something, especially the arts, and is qualified to judge and appreciate its quality. You are called to be an effectual doer of the Word, not a critic (James 1:22-25). Unfortunately, in the modern world of social media, church connoisseurs have a popular platform for their craft, causing weaker brothers and sisters to stumble, and non-believers to scoff at the muddied message of the church.

 

The prophet was reminded of his call in Ezekiel 33, to be a watchman who blows the trumpet, warning the people by raising the alarm that they are in danger. Yet, the prophet’s proclamations had become mere entertainment to the exiles in Babylon, so God encouraged him in Ezekiel 33:32-33, “Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them. So when it comes to pass – as surely it will – then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.” God was encouraging Ezekiel to be faithful to His calling because the proclaimed Word does not return void.

 

Your church’s worship leaders and preachers are not called to entertain you or to please your churchianity sensibilities, but rather to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through fervent prayer and faithful teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-5). If you find yourself wanting your ears itched by your local church, then repent of being a church connoisseur and be the church instead.

 

Seize the moment and respond to your local church services, not with critique of your fellow ministers, but as a fellow member of the body of Christ, faithful to your calling as an ambassador for Christ and minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 
 

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Ezekiel 32

Day 1575

When Grieving, Don’t Sin in your Anger!

Ezekiel 32

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Tuesday, July 9.

 

Anger is one of the five stages of grief, along with denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is normal for a grieving person to oscillate between the five stages, returning to their anger time and again, especially if the death was tragic or untimely. Ezekiel 32 ends the four-chapter indictment of Egypt with the sixth and seventh oracles of judgment. They were given in 585 BC, just a few months after the exiles of Israel had learned about the fall of Jerusalem, so the historical context is that of a grieving community who had recently learned of their capital city’s fall and Judah’s devastation. It should be not surprising then that verses 18-21 capture the depths of their grieving process:

 

Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and bring it down, her and the daughters of the powerful nations, to the nether world, with those who go down to the pit; … The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him and his helpers from the midst of Sheol, “They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.”

 

Repeatedly, the prophet condemned Israel’s enemies, telling them to make their bed with the uncircumcised (pagans) and to lay down with those who had fallen by the sword. This was a condemnation and shame upon not only Egypt, but all foreign nations who had either arisen against Israel or who had failed to protect her. Ezekiel taught that they would go to the “nether world,” which literally means “the lower parts of the Earth.” He called it “the pit,” which was referencing Sheol, the place of the dead. In Ezekiel 26:20, he compared it to the “ancient waste places.” How do you treat others when you are grieving? Have you ever cursed anyone in your anger?

 

Seize the moment by blessing and not cursing – don’t sin in your anger when you are grieving (Ephesians 4:26-27; Romans 12:14-21). Get help today by seeking grief counseling.

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 

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Ezekiel 31

Day 1574

The Thrill of Victory!

Ezekiel 31

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Monday, July 8.

 

There is nothing quite like competing on the biggest stage of national sport. As I’ve been watching the drama of the USA Olympic Team Trials unfold, I am reminded of the famous opening line in The Wide World of Sports, “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” I watched the heartbreak of a reigning world champion who did not make the team, and the pure joy of an athlete who did. It’s great drama to watch, but it’s a different matter to live through such highs and lows yourself. I know because I got fourth place in the hammer throw at the 2000 USA Track and Field Olympic Team Trials, narrowly missing the team by one spot. Sports are a great metaphor for life, because through them we learn how to navigate the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

 

Imagine what Pharaoh must have experienced when the prophet illustrated Egypt’s coming fall from the heights of power and prestige by describing the former world power, Assyria, as a mighty cedar in Ezekiel 31:2-3, 10-11:

 

“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes, ‘Whom are you like in your greatness? ‘Behold, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon with beautiful branches and forest shade, and very high, and its top was among the clouds. … Because it is high in stature and has set its top among the clouds, and its heart is haughty in its loftiness, therefore I will give it into the hand of a despot of the nations; he will thoroughly deal with it. According to its wickedness I have driven it away.’”

 

Seize the moment and find the thrill of victory in something greater than the transitory podiums of prestige and perishable awards of success – “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, … for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 

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Because He First Loved Us Wk 1

The Condition of Mankind

Jakob Davis
 

I wanna tell you a story, a true story. A story about a young boy turned into a young man, desperately lost and searching for anything that might bring him a shred of pleasure and peace. You see this boy hadn’t been born to Christian parents, but still grew up going to church. He had the same Sunday school lessons taught to him as many of you did, yet when this world came and broke his little world, he couldn’t cope, couldn’t reconcile what he had been taught about God with what he was facing now. He came face to face with death, the cruel sting of it, robbing him of that last shred of childhood. So, what do you suppose went first? His small and ungrown childish faith. He blamed God for everything that had happened in his life, the bullying, the suicide of his cousin who was more like a brother, the at times tumultuous and rocky home life. He blamed God for the evil that he saw within the world, for the evil that was within his fellow man. And where do you think he sought peace?

He sought it in friends, in women, in trouble and unrighteousness. Lying and manipulation were practically a language for him as was anger and rage. After all, these things gave no peace, only a momentary release and distraction from the pain. Each and every death and disaster in his life drove him further and further into that life, a life where the rule of me was the only rule that mattered. A life whose goal was self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction, which viewed others as dispensable and nothing but pawns and means to ends which he set for himself. Fiercely independent, yet ultimately reliant on others for strength and validation. Nothing within him desired after God, or what God deemed and said was righteousness, in fact the only feelings he had towards Him were contempt and hatred. He persecuted those who believed in Him, actively attacking and lambasting the faith of others, seeking to convince them and himself of the truth that he thought he had. He was stuck, bound, slave to his nature, a nature which desired what was against the God he once knew, and yet he didn’t care.

That young boy, that young man, was me. I desired after nothing but what pleased me and what pleased me, what pleased my sinful nature, what pleased my corrupted flesh was unrighteousness. And yet that is precisely what we are talking about today. Sin, more specifically our sin, our sinful nature, the things which from our birth we have been slave to. Before we begin, examining a portion of the Book of Romans, I wanted to open with this truth about my life. What we are talking about today is without a doubt, a very difficult topic to talk about and a very difficult to accept truth. I want you all to know my heart before I begin, a heart that does not judge nor condemn you for a life that you lived or very well may still live in, for I have lived a life of unrighteousness and there are very, very few things that I have not done for me to judge you upon. My brothers and sisters, dear friends and dear strangers, please join me as we turn to Romans 5:12. The Word of the Lord,

 

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

 

Through just one man, sin came into the world. Who is this one man? Verse 14 tells us outrightly, it’s our forefather Adam. For from him, we inherited a malignant cancer. But what was the mode that we caught this plague, this corruption? Was it from committing sin? Practicing unrighteousness and disobeying God as our forefather Adam did? I assume we all know of David, the man who defeated Goliath, who desired to see God’s kingdom be exalted above all, who followed after God to his end, the declared “man after God’s own heart”. In Psalm 51:5, our man David had this to say,

         

          “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”

 

Our paragon of a man, perhaps one of the most virtuous men in all of Scripture, gives us the origin of how we came to inherit sin, not to Genesis as St. Paul did in Romans, but more simply to our births. We were given it, as a cursed inheritance from Adam. We, through no sinful action of our own at the moment of our creation, became accursed and guilty of God’s judgment upon mankind. But this inheritance was not only the guilty verdict of death, but an invasive and malignant cancer that would bind our will and desires to it, to total unrighteousness. In the Gospel of John our Lord Christ said this, Chapter 8 Verse 34,

 

          “Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

 

And yet as we know from our beginning verse of Romans 5:12, all are guilty of sin. So according to Christ, we are all slave to sin, bound to its will and its way. Yet, it is likely that our understanding of slavery carries an understanding akin to being forced to do what we do not desire to do. Yet this could not be further from the truth! Our sinful and corrupted flesh desires and longs for that sinful and unrighteous release. We serve and served sin gladly and with no knowledge or understanding of a better way! For how could we know, except it was preached unto us, and how could we understand if not for the illumination of the Holy Spirit within us? Perhaps you remain unconvinced. St. Paul, early in the Book of Romans quotes a few Old Testament passages to drive home the unchanging nature of this point. Romans 3:9-12:

 

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not, one”

 

Not even God’s own people, the Israelites, can escape this. I want to stress that the sinful nature is not our natural state! We were fashioned by God to be in relationship with Him! Our current nature is not new but the corruption of our original nature! We all find a commonality in our final destructions and destinations, both God’s people and the Gentiles, that’s us, for if we all cannot understand, how can we come to appease and find forgiveness in the eyes of God? It is not by our lives or our works as some might suggest, for we know from the teachings of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth the good fruit. For as it says in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 64 Verse 6:

 

          “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;”

 

Our works are nothing for the judgment that awaits and awaited us. We cannot seek to appease or satisfy the righteous requirements of God placed upon us. Our hands are metaphorically and quite literally tied, bound for our final destination, that is eternal death.

We all, whether we can admit it to ourselves and others or not, have sinned, have fallen short of the glory of God. But not just fallen short, we have all brought upon ourselves the wrath of God. For why shouldn’t He who is holy and perfect in all things, seek righteous judgment upon the sinful ways of the thing which He has dominion and lordship over. I cannot overstress to you enough that we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve grace, we deserve death. That’s what we deserve, our final destination in our sins. Ephesians 2:1-3 says this:

 

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in what you once walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

 

We who were and are children of wrath deserve exactly the same, yet righteous wrath. For how could we measure up? How could we appease and satisfy requirements that we could not desire?

 

Application

As we move into the closing, I want to leave you with just a single point of application, something simple, but something that must be accepted if one is to understand anything about what comes next. We, all of us, you, me, everyone outside these walls and doors, are broken. All of us, bound before a holy God at an impossible breaking point, totally and utterly destroyed, enslaved to our sin, a nature that we wish to serve. That’s the application, that truth, that understanding of who we are. For many of us we understand what might be coming next, Who is coming next. But I wanted to spend this morning talking directly about who WE  are. For how can we understand salvation and the One who brings it, if we can’t grapple with, understand, and accept what we were being saved from, that being ourselves and the enemy.

 

As we leave today, I’m asking you all to do something, something much more hands-on than what we are used to on a Sunday morning. Beneath your seats or in the storage compartments on the back of the pew in front of you is a piece of paper. While this last song plays, I want you to think about your sins, who you were and who you might still be, sins that you have confessed to God, and sins that you may not have. When you’re done, write them down on that piece of paper and fold it however many times you’d like and either leave it in your pews in the same spot you found them, or take them to the offering basket on your way out of the sanctuary. This will remain totally anonymous and no one but God and yourselves will know what you wrote. If you’d rather do this in the privacy of your own home, take a piece home and bring it back next Sunday and when we collect the offering, place it in the basket. I don’t often like to reveal my hand, but these seemingly insignificant pieces of paper are vital for the next sermon. As the worship team begins to play I’d like to read to you our final verse, a verse for us to meditate on as we think on who we are and who we were. From the Book of Isaiah,

 

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

 

Benediction Prayer

A Psalm of David,

“Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your Lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight – That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when you judge. Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and  in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence…”

Amen

 
 
 
 
To watch this message including the music service, click HERE.
 
To watch just the message, click HERE.
 
 

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Ezekiel 30

Day 1572

Strengthen your Body!

Ezekiel 30

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Saturday, July 6.

 

Do you have a physical fitness regimen that supports your ministry life?

 

I’m walking on the trails and working out in the weight room because I want to keep my body healthy. I desire to live my life on mission for Jesus, and I can only do that if I maintain the temple of the Holy Spirit with which I’ve been entrusted. Additionally, I have recognized the holistic nature of health and well-being; it’s not enough to remain physically healthy, I must integrate that with mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual health. As Paul taught his protégé in 1 Timothy 4:7b-8, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Ultimately, life and death are in God’s hands, so train your soul to listen, and discipline your body to obey.

 

The prophet emphasized God’s sovereignty over our physical strength in his judgment against Egypt in Ezekiel 30:22-25:

 

Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt and will break his arms, both the strong and the broken; and I will make the sword fall from his hand. … For I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put My sword in his hand; and I will break the arms of Pharaoh, so that he will groan before him with the groanings of a wounded man. Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall. Then they will know that I am the Lord, … .”

 

Seize the moment and strengthen your body for the mission of God, so you can go where He tells you to go and do what He tells you to do. Dedicate your health and well-being to God for His glory!

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 

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Ezekiel 29

Day 1571

Don’t Fear the Monsters!

Ezekiel 29

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Friday, July 5.

 

Have you ever feared what may be lurking under your bed at night? There are monsters in the world, but we do not have to fear them when God is with us! That’s the message of Ezekiel as he commences a four-chapter indictment against Egypt’s pride and failure to help Judah as promised. In Ezekiel 29:2-6, the prophet compares Egypt to an enemy of epic proportions:

 

“Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, that has said, ‘My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.’ I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your rivers cling to your scales. And I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers, and all the fish of your rivers will cling to your scales. … Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord, … .” [emphasis added]

 

The Hebrew word translated “the great monster” can also be translated “dragon” or “serpent,” as seen in Isaiah 51:9 when referencing the exodus event, “Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?” In this passage, as well as in Isaiah 30:7 and Psalm 74:13, the mythological beast is used in parallel with Rahab and Leviathan, respectively, which further reinforces that God is referencing divine combat with chaos monsters of mythological proportions, emphasizing, in the way that the Ancient Near Eastern people would have understood it, that Yahweh was above all creation and mightier than any cosmic force. God showed His mighty right hand at the exodus, and He would do it again during the exile. He will do it for you, too!

 

Seize the moment and praise the God who is victorious over every foe, to include monsters – there is nothing to fear when God is with you!

 

God bless you!

 

If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.

 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.

 
 

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